Elected members have vowed to “fight back” against the cost of austerity to their local authority.
As members of the Labour group at Flintshire Council signed a petition calling for an end to austerity, the full council has backed moves to implore Westminster to change its fiscal policy.
A notice of motion was put forward by Cllr Aaron Shotton, leader of the Labour group and Flintshire Council, calling for the UK Government to “recognise the value of public services by delivering the funding levels required to meet rising demand
Addressing members at a full council meeting yesterday, Cllr Aaron Shotton said he hoped members “understand and recognise the impact of austerity over the last seven years” which had “inflicted untold damage on our public services and communities across Flintshire”.
Cllr Carolyn Thomas, cabinet member for Streetscene and environment, said she “shouted at the TV” when the Prime Minister said there was a need to tighten belts.
Services under Cllr Thomas’ portfolio have already made savings of £12m since 2012.
She added: “I came into this to make a difference and it’s getting to the stage where we’re making horrible decisions and apologising to people.”
To applause, she said: “Austerity is not working and I’m fighting back.”
Cllr Patrick Heesom said the council needed to acknowledge that “the position we’re in is dreadful”, while Cllr Chris Bithell said Flintshire could “go down to Cardiff with our begging bowl” but wouldn’t get any more money unless it came from Westminster.
He said Flintshire had been “wrestling with the budget” for six or seven years and “goodness knows where we go next year”.
He added: “It cannot and should not go on like this.
“Investment is needed now.”
Cllr Shotton said the council had faced financial challenges for “the past 10 years at least” and had reached a tipping point but had “collectively weathered the storm incredibly well”.
He said: “How anybody can state that they don’t see that there needs to be a change of fiscal policy, I don’t understand and probably never will.”
Cllr Shotton will now write to Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary State for Wales to request “fair funding” for Wales, “particularly to enable the council to meet increasing need pressures in education and social care”.
l Leader Comment – page 13.